Would society be better off without alcohol?

Considering the huge costs to society associated with alcohol, such as deaths and injuries, drunk-driving, non-consensual sex, drunken flings, pregnancies, STDS and general drunken violence, would society be better off without alcohol altogether?

Take the US for example. If there was such a thing as a “perfect” prohibition (i.e. no bootlegging or smuggling or illicit stills), and the country was completely dry - would the country be better off? Granted it might not be a country you want to live in anymore, but would US society be better off?

I guess the short version of my question is whether the harm associated with alcohol outweighs the benefits.

Probably. My life would be better without alcohol too, I suppose. But I’m not going to quit anytime soon.

BTW, I’m not sure the loss of “drunken flings” is a necessarily a good thing. I’ve started some nice long term relationships that way.

Yes. Doesn’t mean I want to live in that world though.

I was thinking more along the lines of drunken flings that lead to the breakup of marriages or relationships (through infidelity/adultery), or that result in STDs or unplanned pregnancies, but my bad for not making that clearer.

I get that a lot of people would hate not being able to enjoy a beer after work or have a glass of wine with their dinner, but when the harm associated with alcohol so very clearly outweighs the good, shouldn’t society seek to prohibit it?

I’m not saying it’s feasible, just asking whether it would be the most logical thing to do.

Since it’s not feasible, what’s the point in trying? It’d be more fun to teach horses to read, anyway.

Since the majority of humanity [In the US] has not gotten pregnant, flung, divorced or STDd from booze, why? The greater majority of people seem to handle booze just fine, or abstain on their own.

Indulge me. :slight_smile: Think of it as a thought-exercise if you like, but if we could completely rid the US of alcohol, should we?

Missed the edit window:

And I’m not so sure that we’d be better off without it. A lot of people through history would probably have poisoned themselves with the water if there hadn’t been anything good to drink. (I am actually being serious here.)

Here’s the thing. Humans invented alcoholic drinks. The only way to ban them is to make humans incapable of making them. That would have some severe unintended consequences, as it would destroy our ability to make other things.

So, no, society would not be better off without it. We’ve seen what artificial bans do, and that’s worsel

Yes, many people seem to drink responsibly and handle their booze just fine. But it’s clear that there is still a huge detrimental cost to society as a direct result of alcohol.

For example, how many deaths and injuries were there in the US last year due to drunk driving? How many millions were spent on treating alcoholism and its related diseases. How much time do the cops spend responding to and dealing with alocohol-related violence and crime?

The majority of people in the US don’t abuse drugs either, but there’s still a huge cost to society because of those that do.

But tainted water isn’t a problem in modern-day America, is it?

No. It’s not a question of good or bad, it’s a question of freedom. Free adults have the right to make bad decisions, even if society suffers. Real public harm, such as drunk driving, can be prohibited. Private harm, such as weight gain and morally questionable sexual activities, is not something I’d like to give to the government the power to regulate.

You don’t have to remove the capability of making them, just make it illegal to do so. But again we’re getting bogged down in a discussion about the feasibility of such a ban, which isn’t the point of the debate.

Assume for a seond you could just wave a magic wand and all the alcohol went away for good - would society be better off? Think of all the money that could be better spent somewhere else or of the lives saved now there are no drunk drivers or drunken brawls or accidents.

You were asking if it was the logical thing to do, even if you were certain you could not accomplish it.
My response is that we shouldn’t. I believe in attempting to do things that I think I might be able to accomplish. Otherwise, it’s like teaching a horse to read: It just annoys you, and doesn’t make the horse any smarter.

You just want me to pretend that you did this magically, as some sort of thought exercise? I don’t really see the point, but ok, done, for an instant. Everyone started taking opiates out the wazoo in my fantasy. Do you want me to fantasize that we can get rid of painkillers and anesthetics and have to perform surgery without them next?

No, but Tainted Love is!

Oooooh, tainted love…

Unless we eliminated all intoxicants, then the problems associated with alcohol would shift to other substances. If we did eliminate all intoxicants, you’d probably have to give up many types of surgery and other medical treatments.

There you go, that’s a good argument - freedom. Do free adults really have the right to make bad decisions, even if society suffers? Couldn’t this same argument be applied to illegal drugs? If something demonstrably and chronically leads to public harm, why not bad it for the good of all?

And yes, drunk driving is of course prohibited, but it still happens. If we could make it disappear at a stroke by removing the intoxicant, wouldn’t it be worth it?

In short, is your freedom to enjoy a good beer buzz worth X number of lives and X million dollars to society as a whole?

Bibliovore: Tell us how you would eliminate alcohol. I think you’d see that the cure is worse than the disease.

That’s entirely possible, but surely banning alcohol would help? Rather than have the problems of alcohol plus drugs, you’;d just be left with drugs. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about banning alcohol or other intoxicants for medical use, only for recreational use.

At the moment people seem to be saying that society would NOT be better off because it would be less free. Is that a fair summation?